Up for it coach acknowledges the crowd
Charlton head coach Bob Peeters has been derided by the media, but today's 2-1 victory against Wigan Athletic provided further confirmation that he does know what he's doing. We're no longer playing hoof ball and trying to pass the ball to other Charlton players. It's far from perfect, and there's a lot to be worked on, as Peeters knows himself, but it's a good start.
It was a rather cagey affair, played at a rather slow tempo for much of the game. I think that when we upped the tempo in the last quarter of an hour or so we did better.
The Bloke Behind Me has mellowed over the years, but he has a young companion who is only too ready to look for negatives. After complaining about Cousins, the Charlton product scored an excellent opening goal for the Addicks, leading the Covered End to chant 'He's one of our own.'
Unfortunately, poor defending by Wiggins allowed Wigan to score an equaliser. For much of the second half it seemed as if both sides were content to settle for a draw, but a burst of energy by Charlton in the last ten minutes (including five minutes added on) saw substitute Franck Moussa score a goal that sent The Valley delirious with joy. The Covered End set up a chant of 'Bobby Peeters' Red Army'.
It was a rather unusual start to the season for me as I went to brief Mustang on his duties as match analyst on Friday evening which took me to his splendid home on the Oxfordshire-Berkshire border. It's the first time I've stayed there and I'm still not sure how many bedrooms there are, although mine was large and immaculate. I'm not sure I would have ever have had the energy to host dinner parties on two successive evenings, but I suppose that is why I am not seriously rich.
On Saturday morning my brief sample of the millionaire lifestyle came to an end and I headed back up to the A34 to Bicester Station, catching a train that started there. That was fortuitous as one of the Warwickshire Addicks told me that he had had to stand all the way from Warwick. The Jubilee Line was experiencing severe delays (again) with signal failure at North Greenwich, so I took the Bakerloo to Charing Cross on which trains had to be 'regulated' because of the problems on the Jubilee.
However, I got to the Rose of Denmark to talk to the Oman Addick who is enjoying a wonderful lifestyle out there. I also chatted to former pitch announcer Brian Cole who has encountered more challenging times. It was great to see his daughter Clare and her new husband: they met through Addicktion when they were teenagers.
I bought my Voice of the Valley off a rather grumpy gnome and was able to exchange a brief worked with the Rickster himself. The editorial emphasised that the line from now on would be intelligent criticism of the regime, which is always good, although I'm not sure how the ravings of Dicko fit into this plan.
I had a surprise at the ground when the Bloke Beside Me (Paul from Bexleyheath) did not appear and the seats were occupied by a dad and two young children. In front of me were three Chinese youngsters and their mum with their dad taking photos from the row in front. They were certainly well into the game so perhaps Beijing will not be an Addick free zone when I go there next week.
The new pitch was looking great. I was pleased to see Bob Peters exchanging passes with the mascots before the game.
Charlton went ahead on eight minutes after Cousins collected Johann Gudmundsson's pass, cut inside and struck into the top corner beyond Carson. The visitors fought back and equalised 15 minutes later when McArthur set up McManaman, who steered his left-footed effort past Henderson. A shot from Wiggins was well saved by Carson.
Former Racing Club Warwick goalkeeper and employee of Café Rouge in Leamington, Carson was forced into action again in the second half when he gathered from Igor Vetokele's shot, which deflected off James Perch. Henderson limped off, possibly with a hamstring injury. Moussa scored with a late shot that took a wicked deflection off Keenan.
The real drama came at the end of the match as the two coaches had to be pulled apart. Peeters had irked Rosler by celebrating the winner goal right down by the Wigan bench. Rosler then retorted with some choice words at the final whistle (it is unclear whether these were in German which both of them speak). Big Bob wanted to knock Rosler's block off, but was held back. Peeters said later that he had apologised to the players for losing his composure, but he was not going to apologise to Rosler.
Novice match analyst Mustang greatly enjoyed his first outing to The Valley and awarded the Silver Bone to André Bikey-Amougou. The defender is built like the proverbial brick facility, but he is really mobile and as well as intercepting the ball plays it out of defence well. Mustang noted that he had only been given one star by Rick Everitt in Voice of the Valley and wondered if he should check his decision out with Rick's dog, but he was told that Rick did not have a dog, only gnomes and elves.
The Wigan goal was scored at an acute angle and I wouldn't blame Henderson. I was surprised later to see him injured and I have heard various explanations, so best to leave it until I hear something official. Ben Haim is not as impressive as Bikey, but he did his job. Whether he is better than Morrison is a moot point. I thought that Solly had an excellent game, once again showing his pace and his ability to be in the right place at the right time. Wiggins seems a little rusty. His distribution was poor, but he did improve in the second half. Buyens was condemned by the young Bloke Behind Me as useless and unable to control the ball, but I thought that he had a good game and it seems that many other Addicks did as well, although perhaps he did tire a bit in the second half. Cousins was involved in a number of attacks, apart from scoring his goal, but I still think he is better in central midfield rather than out on the left. Jackson did his best but he lacks pace and Big Bob was right to withdraw him when he got tired. Gudmundsson confirmed my belief that he is a good acquisition, charging through the Wigan defence at one point. Steve from Petts Wood is not sure that Tucudean is up to the task, but there were some decent touches and he did create some chances. He was a little rushed at times, but I am not giving him the thumbs down yet. Vitokele was roundly abused by the young Bloke Behind Me after he failed to score when one on one with Carson. But the keeper (warmly applauded on his return) made a good save and as the old Bloke Behind Me pointed out, in his new sagacious mood, it was Vitokele who created the chance. Moussa showed with his goal that he can make a difference. Pope was not really tested that much and seemed a little hesitant with static kicks, but he is clearly a good substitute keeper and it was nice for him to have some match time. Wilson was up for it when he came on and may have been one of the factors that made a difference in the closing phase of the game.
Rescue Cat Reg has been temporarily removed from Hiss of the Match duties after repeatedly staying out all night, but Fat Cat Fleur has no hesitation in giving the accolade to the banker from Billericay Andy d'Urso. Once again the referee showed no favours to Charlton and was urged to call a toll free number to arrange his pension. Chris Solly was brought down in a blatant foul when he was advancing on goal, but d'Urso dismissed it as a dive. Why would Solly do that when he was making good progress?